Shimla administration restricts people on Ridge, Mall Road amid Covid-19
The district administration in Himachal Pradesh's Shimla has put restrictions on the number of people visiting the hill city. The curbs were announced amid concerns around tourist influx at a time when experts have warned about a possible third wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The restrictions were announced on Saturday by deputy commissioner Aditya Negi, who held a meeting with traders and those associated with the tourism sector.
According to the latest guidelines, no one will be allowed to sit on the Ridge and pavements along the Mall Road except senior citizens. The decision has been taken to prevent overcrowding in the area.
"We will try to avoid overcrowding. Sitting will not be allowed except for the senior citizens. We have been experimenting to reduce crowd and also to implement Covid-appropriate behaviour," Negi said.
He also said that if the number of people or tourists increases more than the capacity of Ridge and Mall Road, their entry can be banned.
The police in Himachal Pradesh, like other states with popular hill stations, have been imposing fine on people found without violating the Covid-19 protocol and roaming around without masks. They have also launched awareness campaign campaigns to tell people how important it is to follow Covid appropriate behaviour.
"If they (the tourists) don't understand to abide by the law in place, then challaning is being done. To reduce the crowd from the Ridge area, we shall first remove sitting benches and overcrowding will not be seen likely in near future," said the deputy commissioner.
Chief minister Jairam Thakur too had last week appealed to the visitors coming to the state to follow Covid-19 norms.
Shimla, along with Mussoorie and Nainital, has seen a huge influx of tourists in recent weeks who are heading to hills to escape heat in the plains. The state government and respective district administrations stepped up vigil along the border to restrict the number of tourists.
Covid tests like RT-PCR have been made mandatory and people urged to keep wearing masks while outside.
The photographs of people thronging the hill stations were also displayed by the officials of the Union health ministry during a meeting, who cautioned people against letting their guards down and warned of reimposing the curbs if violations continue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed concern about the violations at a meeting with chief ministers.